With our colleagues at NASDAQ, we recently co-hosted an informational luncheon for private-company CEOs and CFOs on the IPO process. Guest speakers included a life science venture capital investor and a CFO of a company that went public in 2016.
The management teams in the audience for the well-attended event had plenty of questions for our guests, on everything from how to prepare for an IPO to avoiding pitfalls to making the transition to being a public company.
Our speakers had much to say. Below are a few of their most important pieces of advice:
Dining with one of your analysts can be nerve-racking, but it really doesn’t need to be.
Sharing a meal at a restaurant should make for a less formal meeting than one conducted in a boardroom. The mood should prove to be friendlier and less business-like, and conversations rarely venture deep into the numbers.
Over dinner, analysts frequently probe for “color” related to previously disclosed themes to gather the kind of details that can animate their coverage and talking points for investors.
In the film “Peter’s Friends,” Rita Rudner’s character, the star of a fictional sitcom, turns to her husband at the airport and laments, “You know what I hate about being a public figure? The public.”
I’m sure many executives running public companies have shared a similar sentiment from time to time.
The good news is that, alongside your trusted investor relations counsel, there is a group of professionals who can act as a barrier between you and the mass of institutional and private investors, namely sell-side research analysts.
There’s never a better time than the present to chart your investor interaction strategy over the coming months. What investors do you still need to meet with this year – including follow-ups to initial meetings you’ve already held, and meetings with new investors with whom you haven’t yet connected?
Do you have plans for which conferences to attend, new KOLs to contact, or for attracting new sell-side research?
Of course, all of this consideration needs to be prioritized within the context of your company’s upcoming catalysts: clinical trial progress, data readouts, product approvals, product launches, potential financings, growth target bogeys, and other various metrics investors will use to gauge your progress.
Development-stage healthcare companies typically need to raise money every one to two years. As they grow, they typically attract larger and more varied forms of financing until the time comes for them to either be acquired or go public. Many companies will opt to run a dual-track strategy at such a time to maximize the value that has been created.
But what if the market isn’t quite ready for your IPO, as we saw throughout most of 2016? How can you keep your development engine running while waiting for the right market conditions to make your debut as a public company?
Failing to plan, the old saying goes, is planning to fail. This is certainly true when it comes to your investor relations strategy. Yet even though strategic planning is every bit as important to your IR success as it is for every other part of your business, we find that many companies fail to plan correctly, if they plan at all.
IR planning is about delivering the right story to a well-defined audience, and about refreshing your message in a way that will continue to resonate with investors. Every good annual plan starts with the same question: What do you want to be different at the end of the year? So it’s vital to articulate your goals before formulating a strategy.
As part of our Investor Relations Luncheon Series, we recently hosted a select group of biotechnology executives for a discussion with David Nierengarten and Heather Behanna, biotech analysts with Wedbush. The theme of the lunch was “How Best to Engage with Research Analysts.”
One of the more common things we hear from current and prospective clients is their desire to get more coverage from the sell side. This is particularly the case when the company is smaller in size, is a “restart,” or is an international company looking to list on one of the U.S. stock exchanges. Here are a few things to consider as you look to expand your sell-side coverage.
In investor relations, credibility is everything. When your authority is damaged, everything you tell the Street will be filtered through the jaded minds of professional skeptics who remember your past failure to deliver, or a time they felt misdirected. That’s why it’s vital to maintain a constant focus on sustaining and growing your level of trust with investors.
I worked on the sell side for seven years and I saw it all the time: Companies issuing material news — sometimes very good news — while failing to appreciate how the announcement would be received by a skeptical investor community.
As an executive, you want to minimize any negative reaction to your company’s latest update. That’s natural. And while there’s certainly nothing wrong with accentuating the positive, it’s important to remember that sell-side analysts are trained to poke holes in your story. That’s their job, and most of them are very good at it.